Featured on: Bloomberg

Understanding Spain’s Labor Laws and Regulations

If you are an entrepreneur starting a business in Spain, know what labour rights are likein this country, thus ensuring that you treat your employees fairly and will not have any problems with the law. Additionally, understanding labor laws and regulations can make it easier for you to resolve problems in your industry.

In this article, you will learn about the labor regulations and laws imposed in Spain for labor disputes. Also, you will observe what rights the workers you hire to work in your business have.

Trade Unions and Workers’ Representation

labour rights

Within labour rights in Spain, there is the right to create and participate in unions. Likewise, there are two types of employee representation, individual delegates, and business committees. Likewise, business committees are in workspaces where there are 50 or more employees.

Collective Bargaining Agreements

Labour rights establish the possibility of collective bargaining, which is the agreement between employers and employees. In the same way, the statutes of workers ask for a series of requirements for them to be linked. Likewise, they could have limited or general effectiveness.

In addition, there are other forms of agreements such as pacts, extra-statutory agreements, and substitute business agreements. Also, there are extra-statutory agreements, substitute collective bargaining business agreements, and the so-called fringe collective agreements.

More in detail, collective bargaining is the group of processes and relationships between people, organizations, and entrepreneurs. Thus, they regulate the working conditions of a work team to structure the collective agreement.

Articles of the Spanish constitution that support collective agreements

Article 37.1 of the Constitution of Spain, establishes the guarantee of the right to carry out collective bargaining between workers and employers. Likewise, the force that binds the agreements and reserves the agreements negotiated and agreed upon according to the law. Hence, this is supported by the arts. 3.1.b, 3.5, and 82 to 92 of the ET.

In the same way, Article 82.3 of the ET tells us about its binding effectiveness and the effective regulations related to the source of the employment relationship. In addition, it is the creator of legal regulations in its functional and territorial scope for the period of validity. Likewise in article Article 28.1 of the EC and STC No. 121/2001, of June 4, speaks of constitutional rules and principles, among others, those derived from the free exercise of trade unions.

Employee statutes

Supported by labour rights, the statutes established for employees require certain requirements so that there can be a collective agreement. With this, effectiveness is sought so that it reaches those who are in the affected area. Likewise, agreements made outside the regular procedure and any procedure will have binding force.

However, the labor relations will limit it to individual employees and entrepreneurs associated with the partners of the signatory organizations. Therefore, these are the so-called extra-statutory or ineffective agreements. Concerning this we can qualify the agreements as follows:

  • Company agreements on specific matters that replace collective bargaining.
  • Covenants, agreements, extra-statutory agreements, or agreements of limited effectiveness.
  • Collective fringe agreements.
  • Statutory or general effective collective agreement.

Resolving Disputes and Grievances

In Spain, labor legislation establishes that the courts are the ones that supervise cases that have to do with work and employment. However, in most cases, you should try to resolve the problem before it reaches the labor courts. For this, there is a conciliation, mediation, or arbitration service in the region where the affected parties are.

Likewise, according to employment standards in Spain, conciliation does not apply to disputes such as those you will see below:

  • Provocations to collective layoffs by representatives of their employees.
  • Use of annual vacations.
  • Geographical mobility.
  • Significant modifications to working conditions
  • Interruption of employment contracts for technical, economic, or organizational production reasons.
  • Reconciliation of personal/family life and work.

However, if the parties do not reach an agreement, the cases will go to local courts. In addition, you can appeal the ruling of the tribunals in the labor chamber of the Superior Court of Justice. Likewise, sometimes, the Constitutional Court may address labour rights.

Union Activities and Worker Advocacy

Within the labor regulations in Spain is the right to strike. Thus, company delegates, committees, individual delegates, and workers can strike against their employer. However, strikes carried out must affect the entire company. Likewise, due to strikes and absence from work due to them, workers will receive a reduced salary.

However, the delegate will receive paid credit for time due to his or her role as the employee representative.

Worker Disputes and Conflict Resolution

According to the laws, conflicts are adverse situations that occur within a professional field and are related to labour rights. Therefore, you cannot confuse it with a personal temperament problem. Likewise, taking into account that a conflict may occur, it is necessary to train the worker for this.

In this way, employees will be able to work as a team and therefore more efficiently, able to find solutions quickly. Furthermore, many reasons can cause many conflicts in the company.

Lack of time, resources, or material

The company distributes materials among workers according to the work strategy. However, they are not unlimited, and a worker may feel undervalued because he does not have the same means as his colleagues.

Stress and work pressure

According to studies carried out in Spain, 40% of Spanish citizens think that they do not have good mental health. Likewise, they feel affected by salary issues and the pressure they suffer. Furthermore, this occurs for not being able to lead their personal and work lives at the same time.

The lack of employment equity in Spain

Sometimes, workers suffer from physical wear and tear due to work overload. Likewise, they usually consider that they are not praised by their employers and colleagues, which causes them discomfort. As a consequence, labor conflicts occur between them.

Different values between employees and the company

When an employer recruits a worker with values different from those of the company, it easily leads to the creation of a labor conflict. In addition, some employees have their unique working style, which often generates conflicts.

The deterioration in policies to resolve labor conflicts

Workplace problems should be resolved quickly and before they take on much more serious proportions. Therefore, you must apply appropriate policies that detect the problem so that you can act immediately. On the contrary, when this does not happen, the workers will be the ones who seek the solution to the conflict.

Do not worry, this should not happen because they could not reconcile it to resolve it if they do not understand each other.

Mediation and Arbitration Processes

According to Employment standards in Spain, Arbitration and mediation are the methods commonly used to resolve conflicts. That is, the affected parties usually use this method to avoid going through a regular judicial process.

When the labor dispute decides to use Arbitration, you will have the task of resolving the matter with a decision that becomes binding on the parties. On the other hand, if mediation is applied, it is when the parties are reconciled and can resolve the situation through an agreement. Likewise, the agreement will have to satisfy both parties involved in the conflict.

In the same way, in mediation, it is the interested parties who voluntarily put an end to the conflict through an agreement. Therefore, both parties are the owners of the decision made, while with the arbitration, it is the Arbitrators who decide and those involved must respect their decision.

Additionally, mediation is where the parties involved meet but the outcome will not be binding. Likewise, those affected will meet with the mediator, who will look for the point of agreement between both parties. But according to labour rights in Spain, you will not be able to force any of the parties to resolve the dilemma.

On the other hand, with the measurement, both parties will be able to appeal to the effectiveness of the agreement through public deeds. In contrast, arbitration will take tones more like a judicial ruling for the parties.

In general, both what is agreed upon through mediation and what is obligatory through arbitration will generate results that are opposite to each other. Likewise, when the mediated agreements are breached, one of the parties involved will be forced to agree. In contrast to arbitration, if the Award is not followed, the consequence is an established judicial procedure.

Anti-Discrimination Laws and Regulations

In Spanish law, employment equity in Spain for all genders in companies or workplaces is important. Thus, from 2021, companies that have more than 50 employees will have to start an equality plan. Moreover, they will have to do a salary audit in their plan and make it publicly available.

Additionally, in a company, the employer cannot pay an employee based on gender alone, if both work in a certain job position. Therefore, if this happens, the employer will have to have a good justification for the difference in salary. However, you can never base your argument on gender discrimination.

According to the global index, Spain ranks number 10 in terms of gender gaps. Likewise, there is still a large difference between the salaries of male and female workers. Consequently, men who worked full-time earned euros 29,400 per year, while women earned euros 26,300 per year.

Labour rights according to the law protect employees from discrimination based on marital status, color, nationality, sex, origin, as well as the type of religion the person professes, or their age. Likewise, they protect workers from harassment, victimization, and direct or indirect discrimination.

Therefore, if an employee considers that they have been a victim of any of these events, they may take their case to the social court. On the other hand, employers are also asked to adapt work areas to facilitate the work of people with disabilities. In addition, companies that have more than 50 workers must reserve 2% of the workforce for people with disabilities.

Scope of protection according to the law

According to the employers rights under labour laws, for a null claim, they may sue the worker for damages and prejudices. Now, concerning the causes of discrimination, there are those concerning the payment of salaries for these reasons. Therefore, if a person suffers from discrimination due to the factors described above and for these reasons they are not paid fairly, they can sue.

Likewise, if the employer mistreats the worker may file a complaint. Also, the procedure to do it can be all those that are legally available. Hence, the employee obtains equal treatment and non-discrimination.

Protections against Harassment

Employee labour rights say that a worker has the right to his or her privacy and respect for his or her dignity. Additionally, these rights include protection against possible harassment based on religion, belief, sex, and age, among others. Therefore, if this happens, the employer may receive legal consequences because it is considered a breach of the employment contract.

For the reasons described above, the employer will file a claim. Consequently, you will have to pay the employee the same remuneration as if it were a fair dismissal. However, the worker will have to present evidence of harassment by his or her employer. Furthermore, you can complete the claim with a lawsuit for moral damages against the company.

Accessibility to the company and at work

Employment equity in Spain is one of the objectives of labor legislation, which requires employers to comply with it. Consequently, you must eliminate any disadvantage or situation that could create discrimination against other employees. Especially if they are people who have some type of disability.

Therefore, business owners have to take measures that adapt the workplace and the company according to the specific characteristics presented. Likewise, measures aim at allowing employees with disabilities to have options for advancement and training. However, the authorities may apply it if they do not generate an enormous burden for the employer that is difficult to bear.

Hence, to define whether the effort of the employer is excessive, the court will decide to subsidize the company. Also, the court will determine if simply taking some measures will resolve the situation.

Legal Recourse for Unfair Treatment

According to the labour rights of employees, if the employer fires the worker for any discrimination, he or she may sue him or her. Thus, the employee may demand the protection of his rights. Likewise, it occurs if the cause of dismissal is the violation of any right of the worker, including public freedoms.

Additionally, the dismissal will be null and void and the worker may continue working if he or she demonstrates that there is also moral damage.


labour rights

The labour rightsestablished by Spanish labor law seek the well-being of the worker in their jobs. Hence, it is important that if you are an employer, you comply with them to avoid judicial or any type of sanctions. Furthermore, if for any reason there are discrepancies with your workers, you can go to legal proceedings to resolve them.

You have already taken a look at labor laws but if you want to go deeper, you can contact us and we will help you.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Contact Form

    This will close in 30 seconds

    Scroll to Top